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Delhi riots: Police circular does not cause prejudice, says Delhi high court

The Delhi High Court on Friday said that a July 8 circular issued by a Delhi police crime branch chief related to the investigation into the February riots did not cause prejudice to any community.

The court, while refusing to quash the order, also said that investigating officers need not follow any such circular because there are enough laws in place for investigating purposes.

On July 27, two riot victims had filed a plea citing a news report in an English daily about the circular. The two, in their plea, stated that special commissioner of police Praveer Ranjan had directed his team to be careful while arresting Hindu persons for the north-east Delhi riots. The plea seeking the court’s intervention to quash the order was filed by the victims, through advocate Mahmood Pracha.

When the contents of the circular were widely circulated on social media last month, the police had tweeted that the order clearly mentioned that any arrest, irrespective of any class, community or religious group, must be made based on evidence, and not give an impression of being arbitrary. The police wrote that the order mentioned intelligence reports regarding the arrest of Hindu youths, which had led to some resentment, as a backdrop to sensitise officers about the case.

During the hearing on Friday, justice Suresh Kait said, “I have noticed, while going through the petition, that the electronic and print media have reported news that is against the letter and spirit of the order issued by respondent no. 4 (Ranjan)… I suggest to the media, the fourth pillar of democracy, that news should be reported after verifying facts so that there is no hate between communities in this country.”

The police also produced similar communications (orders and circulars) given to investigating officers in the past about such intelligence inputs .

The judge reminded investigating officers that they need not be influenced by an order or instruction by their superiors but clarified that no prejudice was caused to the people of any community by this circular.

Advocate Pracha had said in the plea, “According to the news report, the special commissioner had sent out a circular that there was a degree of resentment in the Hindu community against the arrest of certain Hindu persons, and directed investigating officers to be careful in the future when making arrests. The arrests of persons should be made only after discussing evidence with special public prosecutors who have been appointed to represent the police in these cases.”

On Friday, agreeing with the submissions of officer Ranjan, who was present during the last date of hearing, the judge said that the persons accused in the case have already been charged and that the July 8 order issued by the senior police officer would not cause prejudice.

“This period was unfortunate for everyone in Delhi. So I think we should not continue it (petition) further,” the judge remarked during the hearing.

It said the observation made by the court would not cause prejudice to Ranjan or any other officer in their service careers.

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